Patched up . . .

I started this blog in its current form back in 2010 and it has become my invaluable journal of where the creative path has taken me. Recently, however, my SHARDS blog site completely crashed and I thought 15 years of entries and over 1000 posts were lost forever. Thanks to George Howard, a smart techie and highly-recommended good guy, we are patched up and running again. Sending you a shout-out, George!

I’m back just in time to share something lovely that Jude Hill wrote this morning

“So what if I concentrate on story building with loose patches for a while? Language Patches is what I have come to call them.  They are simple and small and maybe you can play along?”

This is so much like what I’m doing with my new workshop, Scrolls and Surface, that I wanted to expand on the idea. The scrolls that I’m assembling as prototypes for the class are nothing more than a collection small “patches” of narrative. They go together in various ways, much like chapters in a book, and because they are small, they can be rearranged.

Here are a few examples – some of these are image transfers on fabric, some are what I call “fusion patches,” and some are handmade or found objects.

The images that I choose incorporate on these “patches” reflect my personal themes: neo-santos, shards, paradoxical connections, lost children, myth and mystery. Your images will be different just as your story is different.

Once you start working this way, creating small components that will ultimately go together as a larger picture, you’ll discover all kids of possibilities and combinations. It’s great composition practice, but more than that, it’s a lesson in how one element affects another.

Assorted combinations of fusion patches and transfers to fabric – are there stories here? Can they be rearranged to tell a different narrative?

It really is so much fun to lose yourself in this task. And it’s equally as much fun to actually create the patches using all kinds of experimental methods. Even when something doesn’t work, it’s a good lesson. Jane Dunnewold makes Citrasolv transfer look so easy – when I first tried it, I got blobs. But at least they were mysterious blobs.

A Mysterious Blob

I’m filming a lot of these experiences for a new online workshop called The Pilgrim’s Scroll: Stories in Paper and Cloth which should be ready in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime, it sure is great to have my blob – er, I mean, BLOG, back!

Thanks, Jude and George and all the people that help us stay connected and inspired!

 

Ephemera/Ephemeral

I am thrilled to have had three works accepted for this exhibition — Ephemeral/Ephemera: A special exhibition of small encaustic and cold wax works on paper at Mulranny Arts in Mulranny, Ireland. October 10- November 15, 2023

Mulranny is where I taught this summer and it is such a special place. This is how the Call for Entries described the theme:

Ephemerality is a state that is deeply integral to the human experience. Moments, objects, and beings; all exist for a brief time and then disappear or transition to another state. We consider that which is ephemeral to be particularly fleeting, and a poignancy resides there. Closely related, ephemera are the bits and pieces of our lives (typically paper items) that were not intended to be preserved yet become the memorabilia that we keep to memorialize those meaningful but passing moments.

This is my first piece (above) and its description:

“This small work comes from a lifelong ephemeral dream of seeing my mother walking ahead of me in the fog when we lived in London when I was a child trying to catch up with her. I’m not sure where this dream came from because my mother was kind and caring and would never have walked away from me, but the dream persists.”

More about the Ephemeral Exhibition: Ephemeral/Ephemera will showcase works on paper that illuminate the concept of the ephemeral from an artist’s perspective, using wax as a primary medium. We invite national and international artists to consider how we experience ephemerality. Dreams, memories, chance encounters, nature, time, seasons, and even the nature of wax and paper itself are potential areas of exploration. What do we wish to hold on to, and what do we wish to let go of?

Here is my second piece, called “Wednesday’s Child” which is based on the photographs that Lewis Hine took of child labors in the US in the 1920’s. His photos ultimately changed the laws about allowing young children to work in fields and factories. I have been fascinated with these images for over a decade and return to them again and again.

More about Ephemeral Art: It is a transient form of artistic expression that exists briefly, often changing or disappearing over time. It encompasses various mediums, including street art, sand sculptures, and performance art. Ephemeral artists embrace impermanence, challenging traditional notions of art’s durability, and provoking viewers to appreciate the beauty and significance of the fleeting moment.

This third piece is called “Caged Memories,” and it expresses how difficult it is to hold onto the ephemeral beauty of lost moments, even if we try to bind them to our hearts.

All of this has me thinking about the whole idea of ephemeral impermanence and its influence on me and so many other artists. It is a first cousin to the idea of Wabi Sabi, which as you know is the Japanese aesthetic emphasizing beauty in imperfection, transience, and simplicity, finding elegance in natural flaws and the passage of time.

I suspect as we get older we both identify with and grapple with the idea of impermanence. Seeing the beauty in it is one way to come to terms and be a peace with it, to “find elegance in the passage of time.”

Here’s a good quote related to the complex idea of ephemerality and impermanence:

“If we don’t insist on defining impermanence as unsatisfactory, then it’s natural to celebrate. Just a moment’s pause to consider the passing of the seasons is enough to convince anyone that not only is impermanence the source of all possible joy in this life but it’s the movement of life itself.” ― Lin Jensen, Bad Dog!: A Memoir of Love, Beauty, and Redemption in Dark Places

It’s is a good topic for this Monday – a day of loss and memories. And this week will be gone before we know it! Quick, make some ephemeral art – it won’t last forever but it will shine in its moment!

Thanks, as always, for reading SHARDS.

A surprise gift for you that lights up!

OK, so all of you who take my online workshops really DO light up my life. Your response to the Prayer Flag Sampler has been amazing. It reinforces my conviction that we all continue to need hope and optimism in the weeks ahead.

So here’s a new FREE workshop that I just finished. It’s based on an article that I wrote for Cloth Paper Scissors. Some of you have done this workshop in person at my studio and you know how much fun it is to create these simple, lovely votive lanterns.

I’ve spent the last few days making how-to videos of the process so everyone can learn to make them, and the new workshop, called Glowing Paper Votive Screens, is ready for you! You just need to join the school if you haven’t already, then scroll down to the enroll button, and you are in. No catch, no cost.

Offering these free workshops is one small way I can contribute to keeping us creative and inspired during this unbelievably challenging year. I’ve provided you with a materials list and some other resources as well as the video lessons.

By the way, those of you who have taken the free Lotus Book workshop will see it featured in the upcoming issue of Wax FusionInternational Encaustic Artists digital magazine very soon – I’ll be sure to give you that link when it’s available. I wrote the article to celebrate the joys of sharing a small project with many other artists, and some of the wonderful student work is featured. Over 200 people have already enrolled in that class – and my sister-in-law loves this project so much that she’s even opened an Etsy shop featuring her Lotus Books! Yay!

But your homework assignment right now is to sign up for the Glowing Paper Votive Screens workshop and get busy spreading some light around this sweet (but tired) old world.

Even if you’re not ready to start today, it is a self-paced class, ready for you when you are ready for it – but don’t wait too long. The holidays are coming soon, and these will make beautiful gifts and table adornments.

As always, thanks for all you do – trust yourself, trust the process, stay safe – and VOTE.

♥Lyn

 

Pretty Paper Pendant Pockets

In the spirit of keeping calm, carrying on, and surviving all this together, I’ve created a new online workshop for you. It’s called Pretty Paper Pendant Pockets, and if you enjoyed the Lotus Book class, you’ll love this one.

And, yes, it’s free. This is another mixed-media/paper project from me to you that makes a beautiful gift for friends.

PS – there’s a bonus lesson on aromatherapy and creativity!

Here’s where to enroll

And here are more pictures –

Please be safe, and have a happy, creative weekend!

♥Lyn

 

Lifting spirits with little gifts of art

Have you noticed that little gifts mean even more in tough times? I’m not sure I ever realized that before the “Age of COVID” smacked us all around and left everybody’s crystal balls all fogged up. But some things never change, like creative thoughtfulness.
When I published my new eBook, Postcards to Myself, I wrote it primarily for individual artists (beginners and seasoned) who needed an engaging method to discover, curate, and record their best techniques.

But those artists have taken the “postcard” idea and run with it.
I just got this note from one of them:
Just wanted to let you know that I really got caught up in your class “Postcards to Myself”.  I never really understood how to do collage until I took this class.  I was gathering quite the stack of them and finally decided to share them. 
I wrote words of inspiration on the Mat board before I started the collage.  I put them in envelopes and sent them out to friends and those who might be needing a little bit of encouragement during this pandemic. 
Creating the art helped me immensely!  I probably send out between 75 and 100 of them.  What fun I’ve had! Thanks for teaching the class!
Niki W.
Here’s Niki’s work table with postcards in progress:
This email was totally unexpected – and frankly, pretty exciting! Who wouldn’t want an actual piece of art in the mail? Niki, you are the best!
Another “giving” idea (from me to you) is my free workshop called The Lotus Book. Currently, there are 111 artists enrolled in that class, watching the instructional videos, and creating these art books. In the Lotus Book workshop, I encourage you to make these little journals a gifts for others.
Here are some emails and examples that artists have sent to show me what they’re doing:
Hi, Lyn,
I just finished my first lotus book! Thank you so much for a wonderful time, for sharing your creativity with all of us. Here are the pics.  Not the greatest, had to use a cat snoozie for a background and the light wasn’t quite right, but you’ll get the idea.Seems like a win-win during this Pandemic time. Stay safe! ~ Kate 
This book, from Anna, has such great pattern coordination – lucky someone, whoever gets this one!
And this note, from Carolyn, combines the Postcard book techniques with the Lotus Book! Brilliant!

 

Hi Lyn,
I’m having so much fun watching your classes and then working on the projects.  The first two photos are of the Lotus book.  I had cut out some 4×4 pieces from some scrap from the Postcards to Myself class and decided they would look great applied to a Lotus book.  The third photo is from the Postcards to Myself class but without the wax. They’re just the inspiration and distraction l needed. ~ Carolyn

 

My job in all of this is to encourage you to create with a purpose – creative thoughtfulness is a win-win.

 

Here’s the ink to the free Lotus Book workshop.

And here’s the link to the Postcard book – it’s not free but it’s  very affordable and will reward you will much gratitude fro your friends who are graced with your mail art!

 

Trust yourself, trust the process, and take good care this week –

 

Lyn

 

Here’s to YOU, Old Chap . . .

Sorry about the corny title, but I wanted to share a little tutorial with you about how to make a chapbook journal.

Chapbooks by Lyn

I made the video for my friend Alexandria van de Kamp, Executive Director of Gemini Ink, San Antonio’s Literary Arts Center. She loved it and thought it might be a fun project for poets and writers. I thought that most artists could always use another small journal, too.

This one requires nothing more than 20 minutes and uses materials that you have already: paper, string, scissors, a glue stick, magazines or other collage stuff.

Here’s how to do it, Old Chap:

Video Link

And if you missed it on Facebook, here’s another helpful video (OK, so it’s a commercial for my eBook, Wax & Words) that will give you some composition tips that you can use on the cover of your chapbook.

Video Link

As I say in the chapbook tutorial, these little journals are so easy to make for yourself and for friends. Make several and record your cheery thoughts about quarantine, plague. . . . .oh, wait, never mind. We are artists! We create joy!

HERE ARE SOME QUOTES TO INSPIRE YOUR CHAPBOOK MUSINGS:

  • “Because most artists are ‘sensitive’ in every sense of the word, if you don’t take charge, negative emotion can ruin you.” (Gaye Adams)
  • “I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.” (Winston Churchill)
  • “When asked if my cup is half-full or half-empty my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup.” (Sam Lefkowitz)

Stay safe, everyone – hope to see you soon! And dare I say, “May the Fourth be with you” ? ♥♥♥

Mexican Folk Art to Color – have fun!!

A long, long time ago (1987) I worked with Dr, Marion Oettinger at the San Antonio Museum of Art to produce a coloring book of some of the engaging pieces of art in the brand new Latin American Folk Art collection given to SAMA by Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller. The Museum itself was only a few years old then.

I was working as a free-lance Illustrator for the San Antonio Express News at the time, and this was a fantastic chance to go behind the scenes at the museum to get a first-hand look at this comprehensive collection. Fun!

Long story short, earlier this week while I was doing my hunkered-down-at-home book organizing routine, I came across a copy of the coloring book we did. It’s called, appropriately enough, “Coloring the Folk Art of Mexico” and it was published by my dear friend David Bowen, whom so many of us still remember.

There are lots of folk art coloring books these days, but back then it was a novelty. We did a second printing with a different cover, but here’s the original version.

And here are a few original images from that coloring book for you to download and color (oh, boy!!) – you’ll be enhancing a little bit of San Antonio history with every mark you make!

Click on the download link below the small images to open and print the page-sized versions. The Devil Biker is my favorite. The Siesta one is the easiest to color. Staying in the lines is NOT required.

Download the Blouse

Download the Delivery Man

Download the Devil Biker

Download the Jar

Download SiestaTime

HAVE FUN COLORING . . .  AND TAKE GOOD CARE in your safe shelters !!

 

Want to explore encaustic portraits? Use your phone to email photos to yourself!

Another enthusiastic workshop group met at my studio on Wednesday afternoon to explore collage, composition, and beeswax. Thanks to Marcia Roberts for organizing this great gathering. They were fantastic.

It’s my custom at the beginning of the workshop to give everyone a large packet of images that have been printed on regular letter paper with an inkjet printer. This insures that the paper is absorbent and will be “beeswax friendly.” I ask everyone to choose only from these images for their first collage.

This gives everyone choices within the same range of images, and it’s amazing to see how different each resulting artwork is. Here are a few of the images being arranged and veiled with white paint and asemic writing.

Then I showed them a tip that I want to share with you as well – how to use your own photos in an encaustic collage. I took a photo of Veronica while she was working at the table, then emailed it to myself from my phone. Here she is – great smile, right?

I went right to my studio computer, opened the email and the attachment, and showed everyone how to print out the photo in sepia tone. Then I adhered it to my demo collage and added some graphic elements such as veiling, asemic writing and stamps.

I continued the demo and showed how to apply a layer of beeswax, to incise, and to add pan pastels and book foil to the composition. It was fun playing with a photo of someone who was actually in the workshop, and Veronica got a collage portrait to take home!

I encourage you to take photos with your phone and email them to yourselves to print out and use in your work. It doesn’t even have to be a person – think orchids, cats, and spider webs!

Everyone in Wednesday’s workshop was really inspired – here are some of their encaustic collages. They paid attention to the composition lesson, and even though some of the packet images were similar, the results are beautifully original.

Veronica Miller

Maggie Fitch

Maggi Peachy

Catherine Danner

Marcia Roberts

I think these encaustic collage workshop are so useful and popular because the lessons on composition and layering can be used in any medium, from acrylic painting to fiber to journaling. And using your own phone photos gives a personal touch that makes this kind of art practice a unique statement of who you are.

Thanks for reading SHARDS!

 

Screens and shelters as art

archaeological excavation shelter

screen panels of heavy paper and sticks

As part of my work with the “Unearthed” series, I’ve been working with panels of paper, wax, sticks and silk to construct three-dimensional sculptural objects that can be configured in different ways.

This has become a very exciting project for me, informed and inspired by shelters and screens for archaeological excavations as well as the idea of versatile art panels that can be viewed from many perspectives to conceal and reveal.

Here’s one that is almost finished. It is large, about four feet long and two feet high.

Lyn Belisle, Shelter Screen #1, 48″ x 36″ Paper, wax, silk, pigment, and sticks

This is a close-up of the surface of one of the panels – torn silk is adhered with beeswax to squares of archeological symbols printed on paper. It’s multilayered and complex. The surface is meant to suggest ancient shards and scraps that have been collected and stuck to experimental surfaces for further study.

Detail, “Shelter Screen #2”

Another great thing about working with these kinds of panels is that each panel has two sides. Here is the reverse side of that piece.

“Shelter Screen #2”, reverse side

The artwork can be displayed on a wall as a four-panel work, or it can be configured on a pedestal or table as a three-dimensional object.

Here is another Shelter Screen in the series that also has two different-sided surfaces. This one is slightly smaller, about 3.5′ long.

Lyn Belisle, “Shelter Screen #3”, Paper, wax, sticks, acrylic, pigment

The back of this screen features photos of one of my earthenware face shards in a series of altered photographs.

“Shelter Screen #3”, reverse side

And it can be hung, or folded or tied into a square with either side out!

Because I have very limited studio time these days with all of the Art League duties, I find that working with these shelter panels is like meditation. Each one that I construct is slightly different, and when they are stitched or hinged together, their possibilities are endless.

I love the way this process grounds me back to the basics of building. And the fact that they are inspired by archeological screen and shelters gives them a deeper meaning.

Here is my second “Unearthed” sculpture displayed in front of a Shelter Screen – they were obviously meant to be together!

It’s as if the past is reaching out into the present, giving me guidance. Maybe “Nine Antlers” has a hand in all of this!

“I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us…” ~ Mary Oliver

RIP

 

November? Vanished!

Eek! How the heck did it get to be December? I don’t think I posted one thing to SHARDS in November. Sure, there is always a lot going on at the San Antonio Art League where I work these days, and we did take a quick trip to Charleston, where I got to research South Carolina Indigo plantations, but still . . . shame on me for slacking.

The problem is that I always want to wait to post until something is finished, or new, or spectacular, but most of us just don’t produce like that. We squeeze in time for our art when we can, and most of it is simply ongoing work in progress, either for an event or for our own exploration.

Work in progress – this one has been around a couple of months!

Have you ever read Jude Hill’s blog, Sprint Cloth? She posts almost every day, even if it’s just a photo of a small patch of fabric she’s working on, or a picture of her cat. She doesn’t wait till something is finished – she posts her daily practice. Kinda brave, since who knows how things will turn out. I’ve had plenty of good ideas crash and burn while trying to create them.

Jude Hill – Spirit Cloth

So, just to check back in with you, with nothing finished or spectacular, here’s what I’m working on right now even though it’s still in baby steps. It’s a project for an exhibit at St. Mary’s University coming in February, “Naturally Inspired: Works by Sabra Booth, Lyn Belisle, Jesus Toro Martinez, and Tim McMeans.” The other three artists are amazing – I’m grateful to be in their company.

Curator Brian St. John has tasked me with making 3D work for the exhibit, and I am building three or four free-standing screens with twig supports and panels of 300# watercolor paper. Some of the images will be photos of my clay work, enhanced with natural beeswax and walnut ink.

Initial planning layout – 24″ x 50″

Single panel prototype

Double panel

The panels are coming along well – just gotta figure out how they are going to go together, and whether to use two or four panels in each screen. I like the idea that they can be configured in different ways with different sides showing. And the engineering is challenging, but fun. Hopefully, I’ll have a final product to who you soon.

I did finish this piece (below) recently and may use the idea of a free-standing clay structure with branches similar to this one in the St, Mary’s show – we will see.

“Grace and Deliverance” Clay, Wax, Silk

One of the reasons I miss teaching workshops so much is that in a three-hour block of time, projects were finished, and results were ready to show-and-tell. But with my volunteer day job at the Art League, it’s just not possible right now. Sigh.

Coincidentally, Laura George, a business consultant for artists, just posted an article called “Productivity hacks for artists with day jobs.” Here’s the link – definitely worth a read.

I hope all is well with all of you, and that you are happy and busy. Thanks for reading SHARDS. Let me know what you’re working on!